By Sara Shelton
Church planter Dan Hyun (@villagedanhyun) loves the city of Baltimore, and he wants everyone else to feel the same.
“When folks talk about Baltimore, the first thing many outsiders think of are things like drugs, poverty and crime,” said Hyun. “That always bothers me, because I think Baltimore is a great city. I want to see it become known as a place where God is being made famous, and I believe that new, disciple-making churches play a critical part in that restoration.”
This vision for the city is what inspired Hyun to launch Village Church Baltimore just five years ago. After moving there in 2006, Hyun joined his wife, Judie, and quickly jumped into serving with a local church. Just two years in, the Hyuns, with a nine-member launch team, were sent to plant their lives and a church in Baltimore.
“Planting Village Church Baltimore came from a simple conviction that church planting is the most effective means of reaching a lost and unchurched generation,” said Hyun. “We just believed that if God provided a window to allow us to be effective in that endeavor, we would jump through it.”
Since the 2008 launch, Hyun and his team have worked hard to establish a Gospel-centered presence in the city, and the church has taken a more relational approach to ministry—encouraging members of the congregation to view themselves as missionaries to their communities.
“We purposely have tried to take a simple, relational approach to reaching our city and equipping people with the gospel. Through this we’ve established a culture at the Village where it’s understood and normal that faith in Christ also means we care about people’s tangible needs. Our prayer is that in times of trouble or need, the first place people in our neighborhood would think to turn to is the Village.”
Hyun has seen the fruit of this relational ministry in his own encounters with his friends and neighbors. Two years ago, Hyun extended an invitation to a family in his neighborhood to attend the Easter service at Village Church. Though hesitant at first, come Easter Sunday, the entire family of seven showed up for the service.
“The father of that family, who could pass as the leader of a biker gang, joked with me afterwards that this was the first time he hadn’t fallen asleep in church and, because of that, was looking forward to coming back to learn more about Jesus.”
Since then, Hyun and his team have walked alongside the family, offering counseling and support as they work to mend areas of brokenness in their family. Today, six members of the family have been saved by Christ and are actively involved with Village Church in reaching their community.
“These family members are some of our biggest advocates, telling neighbors to come to our church and participating in our outreaches.”
Hyun and his congregation recognize that they still have a long road ahead to see the heart of Baltimore changed for Christ but plan to stay the course fueled by a God-given love for the city.
“There is just so much spiritual darkness that we’re trying to break through here in the city,” Hyun says, “But in the scriptures we read about a God with an undying passion for the city. God loves the city, and we as His people should as well.”
For more on Dan Hyun and Village Church Baltimore, visit villagechurchbaltimore.com.